The Pandemic Gets the Michael Lewis Treatment, Heroic Technocrats and All

This technique of hewing so tightly to his characters’ views provides Lewis’s narrative its plain propulsion, nevertheless it additionally comes at a price. He doesn’t provide any endnotes, or perhaps a sense of how many individuals he talked to. His foremost characters are introduced to us as they might undoubtedly like to look: charmingly obsessive, unwaveringly principled and unfailingly proper.

At a number of factors, he transcribes lengthy block quotes from Hatchett’s journal entries — basically handing him the mic. Lewis portrays Sonia Angell, the former public well being director for California, who occurred to be Dean’s boss and nemesis, as monstrously incompetent, which can be true, however he doesn’t embody any remark from Angell. When a determine is about to get eviscerated in print, journalists are at the least supposed to provide her an opportunity to elucidate herself; Lewis might have achieved this, however his spellbinding narrative is so pushed by Dean’s perspective that it doesn’t give any indication that he did.

As for Dean, who compares herself to David combating Goliath and Noah constructing the ark, she needed the authorities to think about native on-line dashboards that will enable everybody in a neighborhood to see precisely who had been contaminated with the coronavirus, who had been hospitalized and who had died. “The president would need to issue an executive order to make an exception for medical privacy laws,” Lewis writes, “but that seemed a small price to pay for a million American lives.” He doesn’t query Dean’s concept for excessive public shaming, nor quote anyone who does. Looking askance at the timidity of politicians, who get nervous about issues like optics and blowback and the Constitution, Lewis has embedded himself with Team Technocrat.

Lewis is aware of that one individual’s story won’t ever convey the total image. “Anyone on the inside could tell a more or less coherent story about whatever they had done, and why,” he writes. Yet to guage by the morality story he provides in “The Premonition,” his personal technique is to decide on a facet and run with it.

He ends with what’s apparently supposed as a heartwarming epilogue about Dean’s choice, a 12 months into the pandemic, to enter the non-public sector. She has named her enterprise The Public Health Company. “We’re going to do private government operations, like Blackwater,” she says. For some readers, her reference to a infamous mercenary drive would possibly sound ominous, however there’s no skepticism and no pushback from Lewis, nothing to recommend that he would possibly see it in a different way from how Dean does: as the good concept of an honorable individual whose solely intention is to do the proper factor.

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